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01-05-2014, 11:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Trxjw View Post
Girardi is a #2 defender. He has rarely ever been the best guy on his pairing. I really don't think it would be such an ordeal to find a kid who might be a #2 if developed properly.

I swear the idea of a RHD has taken on mythical status around here.
It's not mythical status, but they are not easily found.

When Sharks general manager Doug Wilson tweaked the team's blue line in late February with the additions of Ian White and Justin Braun, he emphasized the importance of both being right-shot defensemen.

"There's not many of them out there," he said. "It's like looking for left-handed pitching."

Wilson was shedding light on a curious NHL phenomenon: Left-shot players far outnumber their right-shot counterparts. That disparity is especially seen among defensemen.

"You can't help but notice," said Jason Demers, a right-shot Sharks defenseman. "But I have no idea why. Nobody knows for sure, but it's weird."

It gets even weirder.

Canadian and European hockey players tend to be left shot while more Americans are right shot.

"I wish I had a good reason for why that is," said Mike Mountain, director of sticks and blades at Van Nuys, Calif.-based Easton Sports. "But the reason there are more left-shot players in the NHL is because there are more from Canada and international markets than from the U.S."

The NHL does not keep track of the left shot/right shot ratio among players. But earlier this season, The Globe and Mail newspaper in Toronto wrote that in a typical year between 60 and 66 percent of NHL players shoot from the left -- numbers that are in line with estimates of stick-makers. Of the 29 skaters on the Sharks' roster this season, 17 are left shots (59 percent).

And the Norris Trophy is an indication of the paucity of right-shot blue-liners over the years. The award, which goes to the league's top defenseman, has been handed out since 1954 and the only righties to win it are Chris Chelios (three times), retired Shark Rob Blake and Al MacInnis.

"I didn't know that," Blake said. "I only know that there were fewer right-handed defensemen on almost every team I've played on."

In a perfect world, teams would match up left and right shots on their defensive pairings. (The Sharks currently have four of each on their roster.)

"You're more comfortable getting pucks off the boards on your forehand than you would on your backhand," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "It also makes it easier to go back and retrieve pucks."

Just as a left-handed pitcher forces batters to adjust, a right-shot defenseman also can give a hockey team's power play a new look.

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